MLBits: Castellanos is Dominating, Cardinals COVID Update, Soroka Done for the Year, Ohtani Out 4-6 Weeks, More

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MLBits: Castellanos is Dominating, Cardinals COVID Update, Soroka Done for the Year, Ohtani Out 4-6 Weeks, More

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs (8-2) are doing just fine, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, so there’s no need to re-litigate this past offseason, especially with the pandemic just waiting to spoil the fun. But there is something we must discuss, and it will be painful for all of us.

The guy we all wanted to see return to Chicago, Nicholas Castellanos, is having an absolutely monster season for the Reds. Through 10 games and 39 plate appearances, he’s slashed .382/.462/.912 which is good for a 261 wRC+, the highest by far in MLB (Aaron Judge is in second place with a 245 wRC+). Indeed, Castellanos’ offense has been so impactful that he’s been worth 0.8 WAR (4th in MLB) despite playing right field, not DH, in every single game.

He has also literally not gone a game without a hit yet.

Nick Castellanos Dials it Up

So what’s going on? Is he just continuing to dominate as he did last year, or has something changed? This thread does a good job of investigating and explaining:

In short, he’s changed his swing mechanics – from his hands, to his step, to his timing mechanism – and it has resulted in meaningful changes to his underlying production (more balls in the air, more balls to the pull side, more hard contact, more walks).

He’s also still only 28. Happy Tuesday.

Cardinals Report 13 Positive COVID-19 Tests

The Cardinals have had a significant outbreak of COVID-19, including 7 players and 6 staffers from their traveling party. Yadier Molina is one of the seven players to reveal his positive test.

As such, they haven’t played a game since last Wednesday and won’t through at least this Thursday (nixing seven games with the Brewers and Tigers along the way). Fortunately, from a human perspective, five cases are asymptomatic, while the other eight are mild (no hospitalizations). But still, this is the second team with a major outbreak and competitive disruption on the early season.

The word yesterday was that some number of Cardinals players went to a casino, which would be incredibly reckless, but GM John Mozeliak offered a … less-than convincing rebuke to those rumors right away.

“In fairness, you’re in a pandemic,” Mozeliak said. “It’s almost impossible to say that we can build a dome around ourselves and move from city to city, move from our home to the ballpark. … The point is anything can happen. We tried to put things in place that would prevent this from happening, but it just shows you how challenging that is.” He later said “I don’t think there’s anything we could have done differently on the road.”

In any case, Mozeliak does think the Cardinals “can withstand this” and remains hopeful the team can play Friday against the Cubs:

And to that, we did just receive word that there were no new positives in today’s round of testing, which is very good news. Hopefully, it stays that way all week and the Cubs aren’t put at any additional risk.

While we’re on the Cardinals, the Field of Dreams game scheduled for August 13th, which was initially going to be between the Yankees and White Sox, before St. Louis replaced New York, has officially been postponed until 2021. That’s a bummer, because it was going to be fun.

Mike Soroka Out for the Season

After finishing second in 2019 NL Rookie of the Year voting and sixth for the NL Cy Young, Mike Soroka, 22, was one of the most highly anticipated pitchers of the 2020 season (8th best odds for the 2020 CY Young according to the William Hill Sports Book).

Sadly, after just three starts, his season is now over:

Notably, it wasn’t an arm injury that did him in, but that actually makes it that much more painful, I think. No matter how much or how well you prepare, train, eat, stretch, flukey injuries can always happen. This is an extreme bummer, not only for fans of the Braves, but fans of baseball, too:

Note, the Braves were already without Cole Hamels until September 1st. Though, they’re hardly the only team with pitching issues.

White Sox Starting Depth Decimated

Carlos Rodon reported a pain his neck last night, which, alongside some diminished velocity, forced him to leave his start early. Unfortunately, that’s the third significant hit to the White Sox rotation depth on the early season:

They do still have Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease, and Gio Gonzalez in their rotation, but someone else (probably more than one someone else) will soon have to step up.

According to Bruce Levine, the White Sox signed 36-year-old left-hander (and former Cub) Clayton Richard to a minor league deal on Monday, sending him to their alternate camp in Schaumburg to work. He had a 5.96 ERA over 10 starts for Toronto last year.

Shohei Ohtani Update:

In case you missed it, Joe Maddon left Shohei Ohtani in for a 42-pitch inning in his second start after returning from Tommy John surgery, an appearance for which he left with the trainer and received an MRI … and the news is not great.

Ohtani has a grade 1-2 strain and will not begin throwing again for 4-6 weeks. Even under the most aggressive circumstances, it’s easy to say his season (at least as a starting pitcher) is toast:


Odds and Ends:

I will never get enough of Joey Votto.

This is ridiculous and just cracks me up:

Jake Arrieta is a legend:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami